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CELEBRATING TEN GREAT YEARS!

by David Osborn, MH, L.Ac
Friday, March 24, 2017

It was ten years ago now that GreekMedicine.net got started, under highly bizarre and unlikely circumstances.  Through a series of strange errors and coincidences, I wound up, quite by accident, in Romania.  My best friend Sam’s wife, a professor in dental college, had taken an X ray of the tooth that was bothering me, and had come to the conclusion that nothing could be done for it; it wasn’t until the advent of digital X rays and their higher resolution levels that the real problem with that tooth could be found and corrected.  But for the meantime, there I was in Romania, stuck there without any clear goal or purpose.  Sam was working at ITC, the Romanian government’s computer and informatics institute, and suggested to me the idea of putting up a website.  But a website about what?  After thinking it over for a bit, I decided that a website about traditional, holistic Greek Medicine would be the best.  I had had previous work experience and training in the holistic healing field, as an acupuncturist and herbalist, and had been licensed in Chinese medicine – so I had quite a bit of experience and expertise in the natural healing field that I could bring to the table. 

Another thing that appealed to me about the whole Greek Medicine idea was that it was, at that time, virtually unknown to the world at large, and virtually uncharted virgin territory.  In getting the website up and running, and in establishing a bona fide presence on the internet, the help of my website designer and webmaster Cristian Mihai Albu was indispensable.  The whole Greek Medicine idea also appealed to my natural inclination to fight for the neglected, the underdog – the world has three great traditional healing systems: Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Greek / Unani (Graeco-Arabic) Medicine.  Everyone knew about Chinese Medicine and acupuncture; many people had heard of Ayurveda; but hardly anyone back then had ever heard of Greek or Unani Medicine.  Why not help out the underdog, the “new kids on the block” when it came to natural healing?  Astrologically, Greece was all a part of my Venus on the Midheaven zone, and therefore a favorite part of the world for me, as was Romania as well.  I had been to Greece before, and had addressed a conference about the subject of Medical Astrology – and for me, Medical Astrology was the portal or gateway that got me into Greek Medicine.  

My great awakening when it came to Medical Astrology had happened a few years earlier, when I was visiting my pan flute teacher, Damian Luca, in Brussels, Belgium for a series of one-on-one lessons.  I wandered into a metaphysical bookstore in downtown Brussels, Belgium, where he lived, and came across a book, written in French, entitled L’Astrologie Medicale by Sylvie Chermet-Carroy.  What struck me from the very first moment I opened that book was her equating of the Four Elements of astrology with the Four Humors and the Four Temperaments of Greek Medicine – and so, the connection was made, and the door initially opened way back in Brussels.  Since my French left a lot to be desired, I read the book with rapt attention, holding the book in one hand and a French dictionary in the other.  The more I studied of Medical Astrology, and the Greek Medicine that went along with it, the more everything else I had studied about natural healing, including my previous studies and training in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, came together under its eclectic umbrella.  

A few years after my brief sojourn in Brussels and my awakening to Medical Astrology, I decided, through another set of unlikely coincidences, to study Ayurvedic medicine at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico under the tutelage of Dr. Vasant Lad.  I had demonstrated an aptitude for the subject during my studies there, but I must admit that Ayurveda was far from a perfect fit for me personally.  As one classmate of mine put it, most of the students at the Ayurvedic Institute were literally on fire with enthusiasm for Ayurveda, thinking that it was “the greatest thing since sliced bread”, but he could sense that for me, it fell quite a bit short of that.  When speaking about subjects like dietary therapy in his evening lectures, Dr. Lad would, curiously enough, drive home some points about the subject that stuck in my mind.  Later on, I would go home and read a copy of Hippocrates’ Aphorisms that I had and notice the same passages, literally word for word, that Hippocrates had said over two thousand years earlier.  It was the old chicken and the egg question for me of which really came first, as the Ayurvedic people were touting that they were the oldest natural healing system on earth.  Regardless of who came first, I finally concluded that good medicine is good medicine, and what works works, regardless of the country or culture from which it arose.

Gradually, as I got more into writing about Greek Medicine, I really started to realize the true greatness of what I had stumbled onto.  Surely, Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda were great healing systems, but they were quite insularly Oriental and parochial in nature, and very much rooted in the cultures, philosophies and worldviews from which they arose.  Greek Medicine, and the broader Greco-Arabo-Persian healing tradition that it came to embody, were something much more cosmopolitan and universal, transcending the usual borders of geography and culture.  Furthermore, it was also the traditional healing system from which modern medicine grew and evolved.  I am quite the history buff, and it’s fascinating to trace the origins and evolution of modern medicine from the classical notions of humor and temperament that form the basis of classical Greek Medicine and healing.  Here, in Greek Medicine, is truly a natural healing system for the whole world.  Like Ibn Sina or Avicenna a whole millennium ago, I started to see how the basic precepts of Greek Medicine are reflected in all the great traditional healing systems of the world.  

My first opportunity to “take my website on the road”, so to speak, and get an actual taste of the true universality of Greek and Unani Medicine was when I was invited to speak at a Unani medical conference that was being put on at Aligarh Muslim University near Delhi in India.  I had been introduced to Hakim Anis Ansari, the chairman of the Kulliyat (Basic Principles) department of the Tibbiya College there, by Hakim Assad of the Unani Doctors website and online referral service; he now leads a Facebook group by the same name.  At Aligarh, I met those who were involved with Unani Medicine, or working in related fields with an interest in it, from all over the world.  I was warmly received when I gave my talk, and later on I did some studying and observation of Unani Medicine at work at a clinic in downtown Delhi.  It was truly a great experience.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  My website and its following, which is you, my dear reader, grew by leaps and bounds.  It gives me great pleasure and fulfillment to be in touch with seekers of health and healing from around the world.  And thank you, Cristi, for a great ten years!

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